Climbers return to ManasluClimbers have started returning to Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world, four months after the earthquake.
Climbers have started returning to Manaslu, the eight highest mountain in the world, four months after the earthquake. So far, 100 foreigners have reached the Manaslu area to make summit bids during the autumn season. The number of aspiring climbers has been increasing.
Following the April 25 earthquake, all tourism activities in the area came to a halt. Locals said that the Manaslu area was back in business as tourism activities had started.
Mt Manaslu, which rises 8,156 metres above sea level, is located in Lamjung district to the east of Mt Annapurna. Besides climbing, Manaslu is also famous for trekking. However, due to blockades
on some sections of the trekking route, climbers are
flying to the Manaslu area in helicopters.
Locals said that major trekking routes in the area were damaged by landslides and they have not been repaired yet. “Even climbers are using the Larkhe La pass (5,100 metres) in Manang to reach the Manaslu area,” said Bir Bahadur Lama, a hotel entrepreneur of Samagaon.
Bel Bahadur Gurung, a local teacher, said that nearly 100 climbers had reached the Manaslu area in the last one week. “Most of them flew directly to Samagoan,” he said, adding that climbers entering through the pass had been using porters to transport their goods. “After a brief halt, climbing has begun here again.”
Tourist arrivals in the Manaslu areas had dropped to almost zero after the earthquake, said Raj Kumar Gurung, chief of Manaslu Conservation Area. “There were a few tourists in the area after the monsoon started to become weaker.”
Earthquake-triggered landslides had damaged the Arughat-Machhi Khola trekking section. However, after the route was opened, the Sirdibas-Yarubagar road section was damaged by another landslide halting trekking activities.
However, the damaged section did not bother adventure seekers, as they started to fly directly to Samagoan in helicopters. “It’s the right time to visit the Manaslu area as the weather becomes pleasant after the monsoon,” said Lama. He added that the route becomes more difficult during the winter due to heavy snowfall.
Hoteliers are delighted to see tourism bouncing back after a pause of more than four months. The hotel business was badly affected by the earthquake. Except for a few hotels on the Arughat-Sirdibas stretch, hotels in other areas did not sustain major damage. “All the hotels above Sirdibas are safe,” Lama said.
Manaslu has been witnessing an increased number of climbers every year. Last year, 5,658 tourists visited the Manaslu area.
According to Gurung, if the damaged trekking route is repaired, the area could receive more visitors. In the last fiscal year, the conservation area collected Rs11.36 million in revenue from tourist entry fees. The area charges Rs2,000 per tourist.
March-May and September-November are the ideal periods to visit Manaslu. There are four base camps from where climbers make their ascent of Mt Manaslu.
Manaslu was first climbed on May 9, 1956 by Toshio Imanishi and Gyalzen Norbu, members of a Japanese expedition. Since then, it is said that Manaslu has always been a Japanese mountain.
The Manaslu region offers a variety of trekking options. The popular Manaslu trekking circuit, which is 177 km long, skirts the Manaslu massif. The government has permitted trekking on this route since 1991.